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Road Trip With Kids: Expectations vs. Reality

Last week, our family of five did a mega road-trip from North Carolina to California.

All in all, it went pretty smoothly (meaning we were all alive and still speaking to each other when we arrived), but I was reminded once again of how different my visions of a road trip are from how it actually plays out.

Is it just me? No matter how many road trips we take with our children, I still am taken by surprise when things don't go as I plan.

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What You Expect: Getting up early and out the door so you can get to your destination at a reasonable time

Reality: One last load of laundry, a dozen loose ends and finally getting to the car hours after you anticipated (probably in a crabby mood, if you're anything like me)

What You Expect: A good organization system that keeps your car neat all day

Reality: An hour in, your car looks like a bomb went off in it.

What You Expect: One movie to break up the afternoon

Reality: Before you've even turned off your street, the begging for screens begins and then a 10-hour movie marathon begins (at least it's quiet, right?).

What You Expect: Nutritious snacks and lunches packed ahead of time

Reality: McDonald's Drive-Thru

What You Expect: Singing classic tunes together as a family ("99 Bottles of Pop," anyone?)

Reality: The world's most annoying children's music. And heaven help you if you turn it off after one listen.

What You Expect: Siblings giggling and laughing in the backseat together, making family memories.


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What You Expect: A quick stop at the gas station to fill up and then back on the road

Reality: 20 minutes later, everyone has finally filled up their water bottles, used the revolting bathrooms and gotten back in the car. Try not to think about how much time you just lost on the GPS.

And yet, it's still so much cheaper than flying.

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